With the new price cap coming into force on October 1st, Energy UK has published guidance and signposted links to assist your constituents ahead of this and the winter period.
Five things for customers to be aware of in advance of this:
- There is no need to submit a meter reading on October 1st – Customers should check with their supplier for specific advice on giving a reading when the new higher prices kick in on 1 October 2022, as most suppliers will accept readings for a few days either side. High call volumes and website traffic are expected, so it’s recommended to check beforehand for the best way to submit meter readings. Suppliers offer numerous channels including text, email and apps, online account submissions, but these vary. Customers with a working smart meter (credit or prepayment) or on fixed-term tariffs, do not need to submit additional meter readings on or before 1 October.
- £2,500 represents an average annual bill for a typical household paying by direct debit – the Energy Price Guarantee limits the price per unit of gas or electricity that suppliers can charge customers, and the £2500 figure represents the average annual use of a typical home paying by direct debit [Gas: 12,000 kWh, Elec: 2,900 kWh, 3 bedrooms, 2-3 people]. However the amount you pay depends on how much electricity or gas is actually used, so could be higher or lower than this figure. The payment method also affects the Energy Price Guarantee; customers on prepayment meters pay an additional £59 annually compared to those on direct debit, and customers who pay by standard credit (cash or cheque) pay an additional £215 annually, reflecting the higher cost for energy suppliers to serve them.
- Domestic customers will also receive the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme, but will not receive £400 in one go – the payments will be split in instalments over 6 months with payments starting from October 2022 (£66 in October, £66 in November and £67 in each month from December 2022 to March 2023). Energy suppliers may pay the EBSS by reducing customers’ Direct Debit. It’s also important to note that the EBSS is applied to those who pay electricity bills.
- There is no need to contact energy suppliers about the Energy Bills Support Scheme or the Energy Price Guarantee.
- For credit customers, the discounted tariff and EBSS discount will both be automatically applied from 1 October. It will show on people’s first bill from October, however the timing of this will vary depending on how often customers are billed.
- Customers on prepayment meters will receive vouchers for the EBSS, and should ensure their details are up to date with their supplier in order to receive them. They can be claimed at Paypoint or Post Offices but check beforehand where these can be claimed, as it varies depending based on the energy supplier. Any discounts to tariffs under the Energy Price Guarantee will be applied to prepayment customers automatically.
- Be aware of fraud – a number of people have reported messages and emails telling customers they are eligible for the energy bill rebate and need to apply. As above, the Government support packages are applied automatically – so any messages stating help in claiming the rebate are likely to be fraudulent. People should contact their energy supplier if they’re in doubt and report any scams to Action Fraud. Look at Take-five for advice on how to spot fraudulent scams.
General advice for households ahead of winter:
- If people are struggling to pay their gas or electricity bills, they should first contact their energy supplier - Whilst there is no need to contact suppliers to receive the Government support packages – people’s energy suppliers should still remain the first port of call if they are struggling with bills. Suppliers offer a range of support, such as repayment plans, and can help to signpost to the best sources of independent advice for your needs. Other sources of advice include Citizens Advice and your local council.
- Energy efficiency keeps bills down in the long term – there is targeted financial support available from some suppliers to help people with building measures like insulation, but also lots of advice around low and no-cost ways to waste less energy. Most UK homes are heated with gas, but are also very draughty, so making sure that energy isn’t being wasted, or that boilers are working efficiently can make a real difference to bills. Check Energy Saving Trust, and Citizens Advice for the best advice.
- Get a smart meter – as it will provide real-time information about their energy usage, helping them to manage energy use and avoid estimated readings. To request a smart meter, people should get in touch with their energy supplier, which can arrange for smart meters to be installed at a suitable time and date. The installation will be free of charge.
- Check eligibility for the Priority Services Register – additional support is available for people that are disabled, recovering from an injury, are pregnant, have extra communication needs, have reached state pension age and other eligibility factors not listed here. Find out more https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/getting-extra-help-priority-services-register